Last night I had a dream about my mother. We were going to the opera and I was wearing a shredded pair of jeans. I asked her if I should change and she turned away from me as she shrugged: It's up to you.
As we met up with other friends who were joining us, it became clear that my jeans weren't a suitable match for all the gowns and tuxedos and the light-hearted laughter drifting over clinking champagne glasses. Angry, I turned to my mother and blamed her for not telling me to change. With near indifference, she said it was my decision, not hers. But being young and full of unresolved fury, I said it was her job to tell me that I should know better.
Conflicted by my guilt, embarrassment and anger, I fled. Hoping to punish her by leaving. Instead, I was the one who felt crappy. I really wanted to go. I just couldn't bring myself to show up in a ratty pair of jeans.
Sometimes I wonder about what it means to be a parent. And all that inherent responsibility. Is it better to allow your children to make up their own minds and have them learn by experiencing the consequences, hopefully in the short but perhaps even in the long term? Or is it better to force them to do what you believe is the better choice, hoping desperately that one day they'll realize the value of your experience and good intentions?
The irony is that if my mother told me to change, I probably wouldn't have because I've always liked making my own decisions, even if it was at my own peril.
It makes me just a little more grateful that we have a dog.
Because we can dress her up as we please, pink frills and all.